There he sat, so pompous and pious as if nothing in the world had happened! As if this was just another ordinary day! He was hunched over some obscure papers on his desk that held his rapt attention.
She rushed in through the heavy oaken door, recklessly charging to his desk, heedless of any peril she may be in, demanding, "Where is Nate? What have you done to him?"
Her father raised his eyes to stare at her coldly, abhorrence of her presence swirling in their midst, his face full of contempt. "I have done nothing with that scum you prostituted yourself with. He ran when you collapsed. That's how much he cared about you."
Carrie blanched at his words but continued on, her voice rising on the edge of uncontrollable hysteria, her sense of right demanding an answer. "I want to know where Nate is and I want to know now!"
Again, Mr. Winslow stabbed her with a single piercing stare, his upper lip curling at an ugly angle. "Your beloved Nate is off licking his wounds, no doubt. He's probably drunk himself into oblivion with some other whore by now. Don't you know what kind of lowlife he is?"
"I don't believe you!" she shrieked in protest, his hateful accusations splitting her heart in jagged pieces. "He loves me, he would never go to another woman!"
The study filled with sardonic laughter, echoing off the walls and ceiling to bounce its way directly to her. "Oh, wouldn't he now?" he responded scornfully, his sly crafty eyes gleaming in the light.
"Prove it!" she challenged recklessly, though in her heart she knew he had the power to do just that if it suited his purpose.
"Proof, you say? You want proof? Let me give it to you then!"
Mr. Winslow grabbed Carrie by the wrist in a grip so tight it cut off the circulation to her hand, yanking her after him, without waiting for an answer. He marched her out to the car, pulled open the door and propelled her forward into the front seat, locking it before he slammed it shut again. He strode angrily around the nose of the car, yanked open his door and slid underneath the steering wheel. "Proof, is it? I'll show you exactly what your precious Nate is up to!"
He drove furiously, without caution of any kind while Carrie hung onto the armrest, her knuckles showing her fear through the whiteness on each clenched hand, escalating into her pale face. Her father swung into a parking lot at a fast-paced speed, more than the road conditions would allow, forcing the tires to screech out a protest at the fast turn.
Carrie glanced at the numbered doors in front of her as her father yanked her out of the car. What were they doing at a motel? she wondered, her confused brain working intensely in search of a rational answer.
Carrie watched in total confusion as her father threw open the door of 112 without so much as a knock, as if he'd been expected and shoved her unceremoniously inside, causing her to lose her balance and collide loudly into a table, sending the lamp crashing against the paint-streaked wall, landing with a thud on the carpeted floor.
Her already quivering stomach gave a sickening lurch as she spied Nate sprawled bare-chested on the double bed, the zipper of his jeans halfway down. The stench of old liquor permeated the air and Carrie wrinkled her nose in distaste, her eyes following a path to the empty whiskey bottles cluttering the floor.
Her eyes widened in hurt surprise as a woman, hair dyed an unnatural shade of red, a long thin black cigarette dangling from pouty red-stained lips, came bouncing out of the bathroom. She was dressed in a flimsy, neon-blue lace negligee that revealed more than it covered.
She complained, "Nate, honey, we're out of booze already."
The woman pulled hard on the suspended cigarette, letting out a stream of smoke, while shutting one heavily mascaraed eye as the blue smoke curled around lashes, caked black and stiff as wire. She chomped noisily on the gum she had stored in her jaw, making it pop each time she bit down. "Think we can get some more, huh, honey?"
The redhead stopped in mid-stride as she became aware that she was not alone with Nate anymore. "Well," she exclaimed sweetly, "What can I do for you guys? Have you come to join the party?"
She let her hand fall down to fondle the thick strands of Nate's head then fell to his shoulder to give it a shake. Carrie didn't miss the lingering of her fingertips on his body. "Nate, honey, we have company."
Nate jerked awake from the urgent shaking of the hand upon his arm, shrugging it off roughly, muttering, "Leave me alone, damn it! I told you to get out and leave me alone!
He scowled at the redhead, trying to remember who she was and why she was there with him then tried harder to regain his hold on reality, the mist surrounding his alcohol-laden brain slowly beginning to evaporate and he finally realized there were people in the room. He kneaded his face with his fingertips, then abruptly stared at the end of the bed, focusing in on a horrified, white-faced Carrie and her wild-eyed father.
Nate glanced quickly from Carrie to the redhead and back several times, trying to make a connection between the two, then realized what this must look like through Carrie's eyes.
Rising swiftly on bare feet, he stood before Carrie like a noble savage, tall and proud, arrogant in stature. Jet black curls fell defiantly forward, wide muscular shoulders thrown back in a powerful stance.
He raised his hands in a helpless gesture as he spoke, uttering softly as Carrie stared at him in disbelief, "This is not what it looks like."
She felt a sickness overtake her, spiraling maddeningly to her brain, as her eyes riveted on the smiling cherry-lacquered lips of the redhead standing haughtily beside the man crushing her heart to bits.
Carrie's whispered question of his name hung uncertainly in the air, tears welling up in her eyes. She stepped backwards to the door, keeping her eyes glued to Nate's, the anguish that lay in the murky depths of his eyes deeply engraved in her mind.
"Don't go like this, Carrie," he begged. "You belong to me, now and forever by the bonds of our marriage."
Tears streamed unchecked down her soft cheeks. But all she could manage was a whispered, "Oh, Nate."
From far away, she heard his plea as she turned and ran. "Carrie, don't leave me."